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Sermon illustrations

God’s Design

A 7 or 10 Day Work-Week?

This seven-day week is not something that can, or should, be tinkered with, although some have tried to. In 1793, France, in an effort to increase human productivity, de-Christianized the calendar by modifying the seven-day week to a ten-day week. New clocks were even invented to reflect the revised week.

The experiment, however, radically failed: suicide rates skyrocketed, people burned out, and production decreased. Why? It turns out humans were not made to work nine days and rest only one in a week. We were made to work six days and rest one. The seven-day rhythm is sacred. The seven-day week is not the result of human ingenuity; rather, it is a reflection of God’s brilliance.

A.J. Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World, Baker Publishing Group, 2018, pp. 10-11.

Chaos Theory and God’s Design

Several years ago, a friend of ours read a book on chaos theory and shared some of the ideas with our family. We were fascinated as he described to us the incredible concept of fractals—patterns within patterns that result from the application of random numbers to simple nonlinear equations. One such equation captivated us. As random numbers are plugged into the formula, then plotted on a graph as simple dots, no pattern is immediately discernible.

But as additional random numbers are calculated, the pattern of a leaf begins to emerge. As additional numbers are run, it slowly becomes clear that the formula is producing the image of a fern. Is this the chaos of random numbers or the design of our Creator? God’s maintenance of order in our world, even in apparent chaos, can be a source of great comfort and security for those of us who seek to know Him.

Marilyn Wilson, Holy Habits: A Woman’s Guide to Intentional Living, The Navigators.

The Complexity of the Human Body

In his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, author Bill Bryson details the complexity within the human body:

No one really knows, but there may be as many as a million types of protein in the human body, and each one is a little miracle. By all the laws of probability proteins shouldn’t exist. To make a protein you need to assemble amino acids…in a particular order, in much the same way that you assemble letters in a particular order to spell a word. [For example, to make collagen,] you need to arrange 1,055 amino acids in precisely the right sequence….

The chances of a 1,055-sequence molecule like collagen spontaneously self-assembling are, frankly, nil. It just isn’t going to happen. To grasp what a long shot its existence is, visualize a standard Las Vegas slot machine but broadened greatly – to about ninety feet, to be precise – to accommodate 1,055 spinning wheels instead of the usual three or four, and with twenty symbols on each wheel (one for each common amino acid). How long would you have to pull the handle before all 1,055 symbols came up in the right order? Effectively forever. Even if you reduced the number of spinning wheels to two hundred, which is actually a more typical number of amino acids for a protein, the odds against all two hundred coming up in a prescribed sequence are 1 in 10260 (that is 1 followed by 260 zeros). That in itself is a larger number than all the atoms in the universe.

Yet we are talking about several hundred thousand types of protein, perhaps a million, each unique and each, as far as we know, vital to the maintenance of a sound and happy you.

Taken From Bill Bryson, “The Rise of Life”, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Broadway Books. 

Life in the Gaps

Most of life is lived in the gaps between great moments. The peaks seem to protrude only after miles and miles of death valleys. While the Bible reveals its characters in terms of their high points, we, on the other hand, tend to evaluate our lives by the lousy week we just slogged through.

We read and assess the Bible intellectually, but we evaluate our own lives emotionally. Sometimes that disconnect seems huge. And often, discouraging. But gaps are normal. And expecting gaps is essential if we hope to maintain a life of faith as well as discern God’s hand in our lives.

Even Jesus’s life had gaps—huge ones. We need to accept the gaps between great moments as God’s will, but we also must learn how to live in these dull spaces. Because most of life is gaps, we never know which days will prove significant.

We have the obvious exceptions, of course, like births, graduations, weddings, and occasionally even deaths. But the list drops off after these few predictables. Only hindsight reveals the significant days of God’s sovereign design. God sees them in advance.

Wayne Stiles, Waiting on God, Baker Publishing Group, 2015, pp. 23-24.

The More I Delve into Natural Laws…

Medical doctor Paul Brand, who is best known for discovering the cause of leprosy and developing a treatment for it, reflects on the nature and design of the universe.

The more I delve into natural laws—the atom, the universe, the solid elements, molecules, the sun, and even more, the interplay of all the mechanisms required to sustain life—I am astounded. The whole creation could collapse like a deck of cards if just one of those factors were removed. Some people really believe that all the design and precision in nature came about by chance, that if millions of molecules bombard each other long enough a nerve cell and sensory ending at exactly the right threshold will be bound to turn up. To those people I merely suggest that they try to make one, as I did, and see what chance is up against.

Taken from Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts? 1990, p.64, Zondervan.

 

 

See also Illustrations on Providence